Woodside Petroleum posts drop in annual underlying profit, hit by lower demand

(Reuters) – Australia’s Woodside Petroleum on Thursday posted a 58% slump in annual underlying profit, highlighting a year marked by huge asset writedowns as a result of lower demand for oil and gas because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The country’s top independent gas producer reported underlying net profit after tax, which excludes one-time charges, of $447 million, compared with $1.06 billion a year ago. It missed the Refinitiv estimate of $530 million.

Like its peers last year, Woodside was hammered by a near-collapse in oil and gas prices due to the pandemic, which led the company to halve its planned spending and defer decisions on its two biggest gas projects. [LNG/]

In its half-year results, the company took an asset write-down of $4.37 billion after tax, joining global energy majors such as BP and Royal Dutch Shell that had to slash the value of their assets.

Woodside said that its $11 billion Scarborough project was on track for a targeted final investment division in the second half.

Woodside stuck to its forecast for fiscal 2021 output of 90-95 million barrels of oil equivalent, lower than its production in 2020.

On a statutory basis, Woodside posted an annual loss of $4.03 billion, its first loss in eighteen years.

It declared a final dividend of 12 U.S. cents per share, down from 55 U.S. cents paid last year.